Public Conversation with Elmwood Cafe on March 13th in Berkeley

Hey everybody, So many of you have asked me when the public conversation with the owner of the Elmwood Cafe is going to be. Well, I can finally announce that it will be next Friday, March 13th at 7pm at Willard Middle School on 2425 Stuart St, Berkeley, CA. That's the short of it. The long of it is below in the press release. Hope to see you there.


Comedian W. Kamau Bell and The Elmwood Cafe, jointly invite you to a community forum on implicit bias and microaggression experiences in the East Bay

Berkeley residents, W. Kamau Bell and his wife Dr. Melissa Hudson Bell, posted a blog on his website describing an incident that happened to them on January 26th at the Elmwood Cafe. It occurred between them and an employee of the café. Very quickly, the blog spread around the Bay Area and eventually all over the country. It was the kind of story mainstream media couldn’t resist: a local TV personality, accusations of racism, and the backdrop Berkeley reportedly the most liberal place in America. And usually that is where a story like that ends. But not this time. Soon after the incident Michael Pearce, an advocate for social justice and owner of the café reached out to the Bell family and immediately apologized. He said he wanted to know what he could do to make sure that this kind of incident never happened again. Melissa and Kamau said all they wanted was a conversation with him, and they wanted to invite the community to come participate.

March 13th that conversation is happening. And thanks to the Berkeley Unified School District, it will be at Willard Middle School. The Bells and Michael Pearce will participate on a panel that will be facilitated by Berkeley’s own, Pamela Harrison-Small former Executive Director of the Berkeley Alliance. And just so it is clear that this is not just the story of the Bells struggles but how an unfortunate incident can be turned into positive change for the Berkeley community.

The panel will also feature Berkeley High School Senior and President of the Berkeley High Black Student Union, Kadijah Means, ACLU-Northern California Staff Attorney, Novella Coleman, and other panelists TBA. After the panel, the floor will be opened up to members of the community who are in attendance for their comments and questions. The hope is that we will all leave with a broader understanding of the complex racial issues facing our community and have greater practice addressing them through conversation.


Friday, March 13 7:00-8:30 PM


Willard Middle School 2425 Stuart St, Berkeley, CA 94705


Follow up on Kamau Bell's highly publicized incident at Elmwood Café and to create an educational conversation about ways that implicit bias and microaggressions impact residents of the East Bay and offer concrete solutions and resources for fostering a culture of inclusivity.

*To allow audience members to feel comfortable, news cameras will not be allowed into the community forum but reporters will. We will be recording the event and will kindly offer video clips from the event.